Funeral Jo Tyler Audio
2 Tim 4:7-8
I first met Jo some 17 years ago. I think she contacted me because her ex-husband Graham was dying and she was looking for someone to take the funeral, which I was glad to do. Naturally I encouraged her to come and join St Theo’s but she wasn’t too sure about that. She hadn’t been going to church recently. Her faith was in a sense dormant at that stage and she wasn’t sure she’d fit in. Jo was an interesting mix of introvert and extrovert; slow to join in, but the life of the party once she felt comfortable in a group.
Well we kept encouraging her and eventually she took the brave step of coming to church where she was warmly welcomed and before long was part of the community. She got involved in Theo’s Market. She joined an Alpha course as a way of refreshing her faith and then when we formed a follow up Bible study group she even offered to host it. It was wonderful to see the way her faith came back to life as she embraced the community of St Theo’s.
Of course her faith had always been there. She knew what she believed. Libby & Kim reminded me the other day how she was always adamant that the cross had to be empty because she believed in a Christ who died and then rose again. Jesus is no longer on the cross; he’s risen and seated at the right hand of the Father.
Which brings me to the passage we just had read to us. At the end of his life Paul gives this great testimony, that could equally have been Jo’s: “7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Jo may have had a period in her life when faith was less important, but it never went away. And when the opportunity came she was ready to embrace that faith again at St Theodore’s.
And now she’s finished her race, holding firm to the belief that Jesus Christ died and rose again to ensure that she’d be welcomed into the Father’s house when she left this earth.
And what does Paul say? “8From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day.”
I’m not sure Jo would have claimed a crown of righteousness in this life. I’m sure she was just as fallible as the rest of us. I’m sure there were things that she regretted; mistakes that she’d made in her life. She probably fought the odd fight that wasn’t good at the time. But all of those failings have been taken up by Jesus in his death on her behalf.
Her sins have been washed clean and in their place now is the crown of righteousness that Jesus has given her through his gracious gift of forgiveness.
It’s a wonderful picture isn’t it? Of Jo standing there in utter purity, with the crown shining on her head as a sign of her acceptance by God as one of his children, part of a royal household.
But notice there’s one more thing in our reading: this is a gift that Jesus offers to all who choose to serve him. He adds: “and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” Just as Jo chose to love and serve Jesus and so is now receiving her reward, we too can be assured of that reward, that crown of righteousness, if we’re among those who long for Jesus return.
Elizabeth’s going to lead us in prayer now, thanking God for Jo’s life and witness and her living faith in him.